machine emotions: will feel?

google i hate you irobot

ivan jureta (, a friend of mine involved in something about math and software, emailed me regarding the machine email to angelo plessas. ivan says that it should be easy to program machines to wish but he also admitted that there is an issue with the definition of the idea of “wish”.

like in any kind of abstract/philosophical discussion all participants in the discussion must have a clear idea of what the words they use mean. they all have to agree not only on the common understanding of terminology but even to the most basic words otherwise there is a mess because they will not completely understand each other. this is the basis of philosophy, i guess, and this is why it takes so much time to be a professional philosopher and we who are not professional philosophers can not really get involved in serious discussions because we are not trained to handle the main tools of philosophy (words) properly.

apart form philosophy there is a much more abstract and deregulated form of communication/truth discovery between people – art – which, from one point of view, is philosophy without “technical” restrictions of philosophy. art also has a big “problem” with results and therefore it can not be anywhere close to science or philosophy. i think i do ok with art although commercially i am a complete failure (why aren’t you buying my art posters?).

anyway, since both ivan and i are not trained in the art of such abstract discussing we can only entertain ourselves with this email chit chat and try to figure out things ourselves. luckily ivan is officially a genius, he has read and studied a lot and has solved many problems in his short yet successful academic career. also i do not think i am a complete retard, so we can maybe bring the discussion to a decent level however without any ambitions it will actually solve much.

his proposal is that machines can be programmed to wish but he admits that the definition of “wish” is loose.

i answered that, in my experience, languages (we emailed in serbian but my comments apply to english as well) underestimate and simply the spectre of emotions we can feel. for example wishing is one word that defines maybe hundreds of different emotions. same goes for love and even pain. i always had a problem with the word love as it is so general and therefore so confusing for me.

i also realized that the word hate makes no sense to me because i have never felt this emotion and i can not relate to it nor imagine it. not that i am a saint-kind-of-person. i just think that if in 30 years of my life i have never felt something everybody talks about that it probably means that people do not know what they are talking about. that the idea of hate could easily be a big mistake, a projection – bullshit (definition of word bullshit again is complex but i will not get into that now). i realized i do not believe in the existence of hate as an emotion especially because this word originates long before people started seriously thinking about emotions so it is kind of simple and old. huh… i think this could be a whole book here so i will stop.

ivan and i have a problem defining what does it mean for a machine to wish.

since is a machine will it one day actually wish?

for wishing it would not need any people. the main reason machines do need people is because people wish and machines do not. machines are not ambitious, if they are left alone they only repeat their task, they do not get better or grow out of their predesigned purpose. actually it should not be hard to program the machine to grow but than again this is still within the predesigned programming and machine is not being creative in realizing its ambitions, it is not wishing.

anyway you get the problem we are in… it is like trying to figure out what was first: chicken or the egg.

as i said it is entertaining chit chat.

imagine if one day could actually have a personality. or does it have it already. in any case search engine is the biggest influence of one machine of the human kind ever. and it is growing. but i would not worry so much, i am sure that it’s power will soon decentralize.

i am enjoying this whole discorse.